Raised Quiverfull: The Bible

How often did you, your siblings, and your parents read the Bible? Were you guided by your parents or pastors in how to interpret the Bible, especially certain passages, or were you generally free to form your own ideas about what the Bible said?


Suffice it to say that I have read through the whole Bible about forty times.  We were required to read it daily after school. During the summer months, while on summer vacation, we had to read it every morning before breakfast.  Our interpretation of it came directly from Billy Boy G’s [Bill Gothard] reading of the text.  I got to the point where I could not understand what the King James meant and referenced the red books of IBLP for all my answers.  Of course, my pastor would help with the ultra-conservative interpretations as well.


We kids had to read the Bible by ourselves daily as part of our homeschooling curriculum.  It counted as our Bible class for school.  Ironically, despite our extremely conservative lifestyle, my dad never discussed religion with us.  My mom rarely did, and when she did, it was a very simplistic Sunday school-type conversation.   However, the many Christian books in our house, plus the sermons at church, provided guidance to us in our understanding of the Bible.  I also learned a lot by listening in to my mom’s conversations with other homeschooling moms.

Libby Anne:

We all read the Bible daily. It was sort of a requirement. Mom and dad read the Bible early in the morning, and we children were expected to do the same – if we hadn’t read the Bible and spent time in prayer, we were sent away from the breakfast table until we had. And, mom always read the Bible aloud to all of us after breakfast. I don’t really remember dad reading the Bible aloud to us, but I think that’s just because mom was the primary homeschool parent and was home with us all day. Mom would discuss the Bible passages with us and help guide our understandings, but I think we simply automatically viewed the Bible through the lens we were given by them every day, and that we heard in the sermons at church, and in Bible club. It wasn’t so much about being forced to see the Bible one way as about coming at it with a perspective already formed and views already set.


My mother got up early in the morning to do 10 or 20 minutes of reading by herself. My Dad took a few minutes a day for private study as well. Us kids, we were encouraged to take off a few minutes each day for private prayer time. Reading, studying, interpreting certain chapters was also part of our daily home schooling. My Dad tried to do daily bible hours with the entire family, but of course, in a family this large, it hardly ever came down to this. Some days he had too much work to do to collect everybody in the living room. Other days, one was sick, another one wasn’t done with home school and so on. We managed to sit together as a family and do bible studying an average twice to three times a week. Then my Dad would pick out passages that somehow suited our situation and problems we were facing during that time and tried to work out a message from there.

My parents, especially my Dad, believed that his beliefs must be our beliefs. He told us what to make of every single passage. At first, when I was younger, he sometimes praised pastors for their sermons. In my teen years, those weren’t good enough anymore. He told us pastors are corrupt and he had found the right way. All we believed was his, and we weren’t allowed to question it. That was considered rebellious and usually had consequences.


We were supposed to read the Bible every day. Dad had his devotions over his coffee in the dark of the early morning. Mom read the Bible out loud to the babies and toddlers who would come and climb in bed with her in the morning when they first woke up. She would lead “Bible Time” with the older kids later in the morning, after breakfast and chores were done. We were told to not read anything if we hadn’t read the Bible first.

We didn’t really rely on pastors for interpretation, at least not until we were in SGM. Most of our interpretation of the Bible came from concordance searches and dad’s little studies that he’d do every so often. Various books helped out as well, but I don’t remember clearly which ones influenced them most.

When we moved to VA and joined the SGM church, we accepted almost everything they taught. I think my parents had some concerns about the reformed theology, but almost everything else taught from the pulpit was accepted.

We kids were very strongly encouraged to go to the concordance and study the Bible to see what God had to say about various issues. I remember doing searches on “anger,” “pride,” “forgiveness,” “baptism,” etc. This was also a form of correction for misdeeds: “You hit your brother? Go see what the Bible says about anger. Write out ten verses and then let’s talk about what they say.”


We usually read the bible as a family in the evening, my Dad would read aloud and interpret it for us. We had the bible on tape, sometimes we listened to it at bedtime. We each received a King James Bible of our own at around age 8 or so, and we were expected to read it privately and consistently. Sometimes we did bible reading and memory as part of homeschooling.


The family goal was to read the bible every night. We would read one to four chapters at the dinner table after we had finished eating. My dad loved to ramble on with longwinded explanations of passages. It wasn’t until recently I’ve realized that a lot of his interpretations were completely unfounded and made up. We never asked questions about the meaning of passages, we just believed what we were told. I never knew there were any other options. We were also expected to read our bibles alone. Any mistakes we made were attributed to fact that we “hadn’t spent enough time in the word.” I read my bible multiple times a day, grasping for meaning and rarely finding any.


I was raised to read the Bible every day and have a personal relationship with Jesus. My mother did not supervise my reading, however. I was taught how to interpret what I read by comparing it to what Branham said in his sermons (which I read along with the Bible) or by absorbing our pastor’s interpretations in church on Sunday.


In my home, Bibles were everywhere and they were constantly being read, that is we read them daily or sometimes a couple times a day, both as a family and individually. I was certainly taught particular interpretations as well as a particular style of interpreting, a lot of which I have since rejected, but I developed a genuine love for the Bible itself, complex literary work and strange cultural artifact that it is. :) Although at times it was used against me as a weapon, and some bits of it frightened or depressed me, it was also the book that brought me comfort when I was lonely and fueled my imagination and fledgling sense of spirituality. A writer I like referred to the Bible once as a labyrinthine library that contains both everything and the opposite of everything. I think in some senses that is true.  While still having a great appreciation for the Bible, I now have, I hope, a more realistic awareness of the difficulties it contains, and of the difference the interpretive lens one chooses can make.

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Raised Quiverfull Introduction — Living the Life Summary

On Indiana
A Matter of Patriarchy
On Orgies, Bisexuality, James Dobson, and Evangelicals
Red Town, Blue Town
About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.

  • http://www.ayoungmomsmusings.blogspot.com Melissa@Permission to Live

    Sometimes I made it a personal goal to spend an hour a day reading, or reading a certain number of chapters each day on my own. The goal was always to find something that God was going to tell your through his word. I have prayer journals from childhood where I listed my readings from each day along with writing out my prayers, sometimes I read up to 8 chapters.

  • http://nojesusnopeas.blogspot.com James Sweet

    While my experience growing up in a Mormon household bore little similarity to a lot of the stories here, it is true that we tried to read from the Bible/Book of Mormon regularly. And we read it sequentially, i.e. we didn’t skip over the nasty bits.

    It’s often said that, “If you want to turn someone into an atheist, have them read the Bible cover to cover,” and there is a lot of truth to that statement… A lot of moderate sects seem to almost deliberately conceal the nasty bits of the Bible, with church leadership only focusing on the positive-sounding passages and no real effort to exhort people to explore the Bible on their own. But clearly, some sects have met with a lot of success by not hiding anything, by aggressively pushing their members to read the Bible in its entirety.

    There is some hidden factor here, I think, that I can’t quite put my finger on… why exhaustive Bible reading turns many moderate Christians off from religion, but some sects are able to emphasize it without taking a hit to membership. I wish I understood this phenomenon better, but it’s difficult to pin down, I think.

  • ScottInOH

    Does anyone know how this compares to the Catholic version of QF/P/homeschool? Catholics in general don’t put the Bible on quite the pedestal that Protestants do, but the Catholics who follow this sort of lifestyle must spend parts of their days reading, discussing, and meditating on something. I wonder if they find themselves getting wrapped up in Bible readings or if they are more likely to read theological texts, lives of the saints, or something else.

  • Ibis3

    Another strike against religion: what a colossal waste of time! Imagine all the real education that could have been garnered in all those hours. All the literature that could have been read, all the arts that could have been studied or engaged in, all the experiments done with a chemistry set or microscope, all the stargazing with a telescope, all the fun playing with friends or participating in sports–all sacrificed to read a single anthology of mostly terrible history, ugly mythology, and nasty morality.

  • http://christiancompletely.blogspot.com/ Skarlet

    “How often did you, your siblings, and your parents read the Bible? Were you guided by your parents or pastors in how to interpret the Bible, especially certain passages, or were you generally free to form your own ideas about what the Bible said?”

    Every morning, we had “Bible time,” in which Dad read Scriptures to us, or else we read our own Bibles. We went through the AWANA program, and so Scripture memory of verses here and there was a weekly exercise (and a fun one, in the case of my family). In our schooling curriculum, we would do monthly greek word studies on a verse from Matthew 5-7. Also, our handwriting exercises often included copying passages of Scripture. For school, we also often memorized full chapters of Scripture (at a rate of two verses per day). Mom would usually write up the relevant passage of Scripture on paper, in large colorful words with symbols drawn in (like, the words would also be a picture of what they were talking about). It made it very easy to memorize the verses and to see what they were saying. All of this was without specific interpretation provided.

    We did receive Scripture interpretation in sermons on Sunday, but like the Corinthians did, we also we trained to compare everything that we heard against the Scripture itself. No specific interpretation of Scripture was taught dogmatically, except for the basic idea that the Bible says what it means, and means what it says; If it had meant something else, it would have said something else. Thinking about Scripture for oneself, “meditation,” was an encouraged practice regardless of what conclusions it led one to. The only real advice was that if you have an interpretation of Scripture, it should agree with what the other Scriptures say, because the Bible doesn’t contradict itself.